Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'ma Let You Finish Coping, But ____ Is The Best Survivor of All Time!


My activism and advocacy against sexual and relationship violence is passion filled and I believe this particular fight (among others) is one of my purposes in life. While my passion may be intensified by the fact that I have been victimized, I do not believe that my victimization is the reason why I am so "good" at being outspoken on the topic. I don't see my experiences in other survivors because I am of the opinion that no two experiences or reactions to those experiences are identical; my strength on issues relating to sexual and relationship violence runs so deep because I've seen many sides of the issue. My pops is a detective, and worked for the Family Violence Intervention Unit. I studied several "special groups" (or the others: Black women, prison populations, children, non-heterosexual relationships), even though when people see me, the assumption is made that being a "Womanist", I only advocate for Black women. I have also worked with sex offenders, and personally knew a woman who had killed a man who attacked her. I am most willing to see all sides of the issues surrounding relationship and sexual violence...except the victim-blaming side.


In that, I am going to talk about Rihanna. Let's talk.
I was not in the car with Chris and Rihanna the night that the infamous fight heard 'round the world occured. As a matter of fact, I've never been in a car with either of them at all. I've never intentionally been within 50 feet of either of them, and as such, I do not know them personally. As such, I have avoided choosing a side because, well, that doesn't benefit me; I am on the side that advocates against relationship violence.


In looking at the reactions in the blogsphere, I am finding that many Black bloggers/commenters and even "real life" people are very willing to not support Rihanna, with or without any credible reason. I am a domestic violence/sexual assault counselor, and I had one of my Black interns even argue with me that the photo of Rihanna's injuries was fake (there was a fake photo leaked afterward, but the actual photo seen below became subject to an LAPD investigation).



Was Chris Brown victimized too? Is that a possibility? Yes. Absolutely possible. I am not defending his behavior, nor disputing that it could have gone both ways; but why do people only consider his possible victimization in the interest of disputing her obvious injuries? Why are people so willing to call her the crazy girl because of her darkened, hypersexualized image? Has anybody considered what type of affect this may have on her, especially at her age? Have we not seen the negative affects that the public's demands can have on the downward spiral of young celebrities who may not have even fallen victim to abuse?


In my state, if there is a domestic violence incident and the police are called, both people are arrested if they both have injuries; I have seen victims go to jail because an abuser cut his/her hand on a piece of glass they were using during their attack. I understand that celebrities are constantly in the public eye and, while it is very easy for "real life" people to make judgments about what may or may not have happened, I do not think that a celebrity victim is any less a victim than a "real life" victim.


Okay, I'm getting to the point. While brushing up on my entertainment "news" this morning, I clicked to mediatakeout.com, which I can only revere the "nigga news", to find a video with the headline: "IS THIS WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN CHRIS BROWN AND RIHANNA???? VIDEO OF CARIBBEAN GIRL SPAZZING OUT ON HER BOYFRIEND!!!"
Is abuse now considered entertainment? Many of the commenters are all laughs, but many of the commenters say things similar to "Yes, Rihanna beat Chris the entire time and then wanted to run and cry when he retaliated against her." Aside, many of the comments also show how divided the Black community is in terms of ethnicity. Example: "typical island darkbutt", "especially Jamaican, Trinidadian broads."


Sigh and woosa.
Rihanna has spoken about the incident recently. I did not watch all of the interviews but I did see bits and pieces of one. I also noticed a wave of bloggers excitedly proclaiming that Rihanna has finally spoken. Finally, she has decided to tell everyone her feelings. Finally, after just a few ridicule filled months, she is deciding to speak. In knowing what I do about victims of violence in general (and not just relationship violence), it takes time. Why isn't she allowed to process and "heal"? Does celebridom exempt her from taking a break to understand how she feels? Is it a cultural issue then? Is the "strong Black woman" stigma still alive and well, and should she just get over her trauma?


In my opinion, it will be some time before Rihanna is viewed as more than a victim (and not survivor) of domestic violence but some groups of people and the problem lies within the mentality of these people, not in Rihanna. I also know from my own opinions that Chris Brown may not be seen as more than an abuser by some groups of people, though I do not believe that these people are the majority. Example? Their music.
Many people that I know, white and Black, advocate and just-plain-music-lover "Russian Roulette" comment: "...she's just crazy. I can't get down with that. She's taking it too far. Encouraging suicide?" from the commonfolk. But, also, I definitely have heard the opinions of my colleagues on "Transformer": "typical abuser speech, trying to change and control their victims."


I am not, nor will I ever be, of the opinion that abuse is a private matter. This reinforces the idea that the law should not interfere. As a matter of fact, before the law decided that domestic and relationship violence should be punishable, it was seen as a private matter and that is partially another victim blaming mechanism. Abuse is everyone's problem, whether people feel it necessary to personally interefere or not. The fact that the law did not decide that it should interefere with relationship violence until the late 80s/early 90s is problematic, and people saying that it should be a "private" matter reinforces the isolation of victims by society.


At any rate, after closing out mediatakeout.com in my disgust (and this generally happens on a daily basis), I read the "secrets" from this week on postsecret.blogspot.com, and found one that inspired me to write out against victim-blaming:



Everyone is responsible for, both, the good and the bad. Please make a conscious decision on which side you are responsible for encouraging (and I'm speaking strictly of "good" versus "bad" -- NOT "Chris" and "Rihanna").

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